How to Shift Obstacles into Gifts

by: Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

What do you think– Is showing emotion a sign of weakness? Or strength?

How about when s/he doesn’t call? It means things are done. Over. Or s/he is simply busy?

You get constructive feedback at work. Your job is in jeopardy and your manager hates you? They want you to succeed and grow in your position?

You see where I am going. And I could go on. Our reactions to things like missing the bus, or a long line at Starbucks can easily ruin our day if we let it….That’s just it. If we let it. And let’s be honest, sometimes we do.

Do You Hate Your Job?

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

We spend more time at work than we do with our families, with our friends, relaxing, and traveling.  So it stands to reason that if you are spending the majority of your week, and therefore, the majority of your life doing something that stresses you out, something that you hate, your health and happiness are bound to be effected.  Negative emotions, stress, and anxiety have measurable impacts on your waistline, mental health, blood pressure,  your immunity and your ability to heal.  So if your happiness and peace of mind aren’t a good enough motivator to rethink your work situation, maybe wrinkles, longevity, and disease prevention will do the trick.

Doing something you love and making good money doing it isn’t a luxury, it is your right as a brilliant, vibrant human being.  {Tweet it!}  If you are talking yourself out of that fact, you are doing yourself a major disservice.  We all have a million reasons for why we can’t change something negative in our lives.  We convince ourselves that our responsibilities outweigh our need for fulfillment.  We tell ourselves that no one loves their job, and we just have to do what we have to do.  We tell ourselves that now just isn’t a good time.  This kind of negative, limiting self-talk is exactly what keeps you stuck, and what keeps you going back to that bottle of wine, that slice of pizza, or that pint of ice cream after a long day of uninspiring work that you hate.

So for just one minute, let yourself move past all the reasons why you can’t, and think about why you must.  What are you sacrificing in your life to stay at that job?  How would your life be different if you were actually excited about going to work every day, and felt satisfied and fulfilled at the end of a long day.  This reality is a lot closer than you think.

But where to start?  Getting clear on exactly what makes you miserable about your job, as well as what you need from your career are a vital first step.  Whip out a notebook and follow the six steps below to start on the path towards finding a career you really love.

Step 1:  What’s not working?

Write down the five things about your job that drive you the craziest.  Maybe it’s your boss, or the hours, or just the reality of what you’re doing all day long.  This will help you to understand what exactly it is about your circumstances that isn’t working for you.  Maybe you’ll find that it’s not really your job that you hate, but the culture of your workplace.  In that case, finding a similar position in a different company, perhaps one that is more aligned with your ethos, is all you need!

Step 2:  What are your must-have’s?

So now that you know what isn’t working, get super clear on what you absolutely need.  Perhaps your salary is non-negotiable.  Health insurance, vacation days, etc.  But think about what you need on a deeper level as well!  A creative outlet, a self-directed work style, a flexible schedule.  Write down all of these must-have’s, and if you’d like, you can even expand your wish list to include aspects of a job you would really like to have realized, but aren’t deal-breakers.

Step 3:  What are you passionate about?

It totally breaks my heart that so many of us separate our passions from our careers.  Let me reiterate:  You will spend more of your life working than doing anything else.  So why would you settle for a career that doesn’t speak to your passions?  Write down the three things you are most passionate about.  Travel, health, beauty, art, child welfare, human rights, photography, film, writing… If you’re having trouble, think back to your high school and college years.  What electives did you take, what extracurricular activities were you most excited about, what were your obsessions (other than that guy in history class)?  Thinking back to a time when you allowed yourself to pursue your passions can provide wonderful insights into your calling or your life’s work.

Step 4:  What are you really good at?

Sometimes this is in line with your passions, and sometimes it isn’t.  But if you are amazing at something, it comes easy to you, and that makes for a much smoother work experience than the uphill struggle of fitting yourself into a mold that just isn’t you.  Maybe you’re awesome with numbers, or you’re amazing at inspiring people.  Perhaps you have great powers of persuasion, or are an amazing listener.  Think about what your friends come to you for.  Are you the person people call when they need help solving a problem, dealing with a difficult person in their life, or when they need the benefit of your wisdom and support?  Finding a job that plays to your strengths will be more enjoyable, easier, and you’ll be just plain better at it

Step 5:  What type of person are you?

Often times, the biggest culprit for being in jobs that we hate is that we’re doing the completely wrong thing for our personality.  A shy introverted person is going to miserable in a sales position, where they have to present to others and be outgoing.  A born leader is going to be miserable in a position that positions them as just one of the crowd, forced to take orders from a long chain of superiors.  What characteristics define you?  Your creativity? Enthusiasm?  Calm?  Write down what you come up with. Sometimes we need a little guidance figuring out these aspects of our character, and luckily there are tons of super enlightening tools out there to help you.  Start with Oprah’s self-assessment quiz, Who Are You Meant to Be?  Or jump into something more compressive, like the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment, and do some reading about your type.  Many profiles will list the types of careers that are best suited for your type, which is an awesome place to start.

Step 6:  Put it all together.

Objectively look at all the information you wrote down… What picture is starting to emerge?  If you wrote down that what you hate about your job is the tedious computer work, one of your must-have’s is an active workday, you’re passionate about travel, you’re good at problem-solving, and you’re the type of person who needs freedom and creativity to feel fulfilled, what kind of career could fit that profile?  Perhaps something with travel and a self-directed work style like a consultant position where companies fly you in to solve some specific issue that you’re amazing with.  If nothing is coming out at you, hand your list over to a trusted friend or loved one, and ask them what career they think your list describes.

Simply taking the first step of allowing yourself to dream of a different career is huge.  Really accept and sit with the idea that you deserve to do something you love, and that it is totally possible!!

{Image: CareerBuilder}

How to Become a Morning Person

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

In my holistic health counseling practice, the excuse I hear most often for why someone just can’t make time for a healthy breakfast, a morning workout, or meditation is “I’m not a morning person.”  I’ve got news for you:  That’s a load of hooey!  Any staunch night owl can become a super productive person before 9am if they want to.  I’ll tell you how I know this.. I did it!  I come from a family of night owls.  We stayed up LATE in my house, and mornings were a time to sleep until the very last minute, rush around getting ready, and frantically arriving late wherever we needed to be.  I kept up this M.O. well into my late 20’s.  And then I decided to change.  I craved calm, nourishing mornings.  I craved time.  I hate the feeling of rushing.  So if I can do it, so can you, if you choose to.  Here’s how:

1.  Get to bed at a reasonable hour (DUH!)

This is so obvious, but always overlooked.  If you want to wake up, totally rested, before your alarm, with time to get some stuff done in the morning, you need to get to bed earlier.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking you do ok on less than 7 hours of sleep. You don’t, and pretending is what’s making you a tired, grumpy zombie in the mornings.  Figure out when you ideally would like to wake up, leaving time for whatever you would like to accomplish in the morning (see below), and get thee into bed at least 8.5 hours before that time (leaving yourself a 30 minute buffer to actually get to sleep). If you have trouble getting to sleep, check out my article, How to Sleep Better, Naturally!

2.  Decide how you want to use your morning.

Morning is a perfect time for exercise, meditation, a healthy breakfast, and some chill time before work.  Figure out what your priorities are and set your intentions for the morning.  Figure out how much time you want to dedicate to these activities, and go to sleep accordingly the night before (see above).  Create a little morning ritual for yourself that incorporates everything you would love your morning to include.  A ritual is an amazing way to create and stick to a new habit, injecting it with calm and meaning (check out my article, The Power of Ritual!).  Here’s my morning ritual:  I wake up, walk the dog, feed him, take my morning vitamins, meditate for 15 minutes, make breakfast and watch the news for about 20 minutes… all before even starting to get ready for the day!  I set my alarm to leave myself time for my ritual, and make sure I get to bed at the right time to allow myself at least 8 hours of sleep (preferably 9 ; )

3.  Leave yourself plenty of time, and stay calm.

Regardless of what you want to accomplish in the morning, leave yourself enough time to do it all calmly.T he number one way to ruin your morning is to rush, or even just to feel rushed.  So always give yourself a buffer to account for any unpredictable events, as well as all the basics of getting ready.  The more time you feel  like you have, the calmer you will be.

4.  Save room for pleasure.

Make sure your morning includes something you find pleasurable (like meditation, checking your favorite blogs, or watching the news).  You’re not going to be motivated to get up early for your awesome mornings if they’re not pleasurable, or if they’re filled with more stuff you have to do.  Morning is an amazing time to start the day with some you time, which sets the tone for a more  enjoyable and less stressful day. So dig deep and connect to what you’re really craving in the mornings.  Maybe it’s tons of time to do your hair or pick out the perfect outfit.  Or sitting down at the table for a real proper breakfast.  It’s YOUR morning, so make it count!  The more enjoyable your mornings, the more you will look forward to them.  And, wait, what?  Suddenly you’re a morning person.

{Image: WeHeartIt}

Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Yoga Practice?

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

The amazing health, body, and spiritual benefits of yoga are no secret.  People with a regular yoga practice are on the whole slimmer, happier, less stressed out, eat healthier, have lower blood pressure, and experience less headaches, pain, swelling, anxiety, and hormonal imbalance.  I mean, if that’s not reason enough to get on that vinyasa train, I don’t know what is.  But, just showing up to class doesn’t guarantee those results.  There’s doing yoga, and then there’s doing yoga.  I see tons of people in my classes that bring their phones into the studio, half-ass their poses, don’t breathe, break up the flow of their practice with tons of fidgeting, water drinking, and other distractions, and then leave before shavasana. If you’re one of these people, you are robbing yourself of a truly impactful, effective, and meaningful practice!  Make sure you’re getting the most out of your practice by following the tips below.

1.  Try not to get wired before class.  

If you routinely grab a Starbucks or soda on your way to your yoga class, you’re going to make the mindfulness, deep breathing, and ultimately relaxation (if only just at the end) of a successful routine much harder for yourself.  Caffeine speeds up your breathing and heart rate, causes racing thoughts and can increase anxiety, which is pretty counterproductive for yoga.  If you need to have your coffee in the morning, have it 2-3 hours before class, or wait until after to get your fix.  Better yet, use yoga to help you break your coffee addiction!

2.  Put away your phone.

From the moment you set foot in the studio, try to put yourself in a focused, relaxed mindset.  Checking your email on your mat creates a stressful environment that makes settling into a mindful practice much more difficult.  Plus, it’s distracting and even stressful for everyone around you!  Your fellow practitioners are coming to yoga for a reprieve from their busyness and stress, and you being on your phone is a distracting reminder of everything they’re trying to put on pause.  So for the sake of your own practice, and that of everyone around, leave your phone in your bag and fully arrive in the space, mental and physical, from the moment you walk in.

3. Set an intention for your practice.

As with most things in life, if you go into your practice with a specific intention, you’re going to get a whole lot more out of it than if you’re just going through the motions.  Some great intentions can be “I’m going to do my best and push myself further in my practice today,” or “I’m going to focus on my breath and relaxation today… No stress, no pressure.”  You can dedicate your practice to someone in your life that’s in need of a little love and support, or to someone you are struggling with or in the midst of a conflict with.  Yoga isn’t just a workout.  It doesn’t need to be this whole huge spiritual, om-filled, flowery experience if you don’t want it to be, but completely eliminating the mindfulness component is totally selling yourself short and robbing your practice of the meaning that supercharges it’s effectiveness.

4.  Don’t be afraid to personalize your practice.

We can often get so wrapped up in the competitive, comparative aspect of a yoga class (“I can totally get my leg higher than her!”), that we short change ourselves on having a practice that fits exactly what we need on that given day.  Don’t be afraid to use props, rest for a moment in child’s pose, not take a bind, or otherwise make adjustments to poses to fit your needs, your body, and what feels best.  We often see props as a crutch or a sign of being a beginner practitioner, but B.K.S Iyengar said that “confidence and willpower are built up by props.”  Props allow you to progress in your practice and gain correct alignment in your poses, which is so much more important than how you look compared to the girl next to you.  Listen to your body.. If you need to take a break in child’s pose, that is always available to you, and knowing when you need to take that pose is truly the sign of a mindful practitioner.  But make sure to maintain your focus in your practice.  Stopping to fidget, fix your hair or drink water when something feels hard is not staying focused. These are the crutches.  Instead, breathe and listen to what your body needs.

5.  Never skip shavasana!

So many of my favorite teachers have repeated over and over again that shavasana, or corpse pose, is the most important part of a yoga practice.  And yet, every class, at least one person leaves before this crucial final pose.  Shavasana is what your whole routine is building up to.  The mindfulness, the exertion, the pushing yourself, and the breath are all leading you to the vital moment of peace and quiet meditation at the end of class.  To skip that valuable moment is literally half-assing your practice.  If you’re one of those people that has trouble sitting still or quieting your thoughts, use your yoga practice as a tool to focus and calm your body and mind, and use shavasana as a way to integrate all that amazing work into your body.  Focus on your breath and just relax.  If you’re still having trouble with racing thoughts, repeat a long ommmm in your head on every exhale to help you stay mindful.

{Photo: WeHeartIt}

The Power of Ritual

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Ritual

In my holistic nutrition practice, I am always talking up the power of creating rituals for eating, wellness, and self-care.  Rituals not only help you to create and stick to new healthy habits, but they can also play a huge role in how full or satisfied you feel after a meal, how effective your meditation practice is, or how relaxing your mani-pedi is.

In some exciting news, a new research study co-authored by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Minnesota will be published in the Journal of Psychological Sciences, proving what I’ve been claiming for ages… rituals matter, and they could mean finally feeling fulfilled, consistently happy, and yes, even dropping those last 10 pounds!  The study showed that when a ritual was performed before eating, thse food tasted better and was more satisfying than when there was no pre-eating ritual. Whether it was a chocolate bar or a carrot, participants who performed a specific pre-eating ritual ate slower, enjoyed the food more, and ultimately felt more full and satisfied after eating (which means they didn’t need to keep snacking!).  Though this study was specific to food, the results can be translated across all healthy behaviors.

Rituals promote mindfulness, a slowing down that brings the action at hand to the forefront of your consciousness.  When simple, everyday activities are given more meaning in this way, they are elevated from mere automatic behaviors to moments of connection, fulfillment, and joy.  The more you feel these uplifting emotions, the less likely you will be to overeat, abuse your body, or skip the activities that fill you with energy and vitality (like exercising and meditation).  Pick rituals to perform around the areas where you struggle — food, sleep, relaxation, exercise, self-care.

Try some of these rituals for yourself, and see what a difference they make!

  • Morning rituals:

    • Sip hot water with lemon right when you wake up.  It’s super alkalizing, hydrating, and just feels great!
    • Meditate
    • Spend some time mindfully making your morning tea or coffee
    • Move your body — some sun salutations feel especially great in the morning
    • Listen to music
  • Rituals before a meal:

    • Say a prayer or a few words of thanks, or sing a little song!
    • Take time to beautifully set your table, even if you’re eating alone!
    • Arrange your food creatively on the plate, garnish it with fresh herbs or other edible adornments, and take a moment to admire your work before digging in.
    • Put on some lipstick, brush your hair, and throw on a fresh, cute outfit before sitting down to dinner.
  • Rituals before meditating:

    • Light candles or incense.
    • Water your plants.
    • Do some stretches.
    • Create your own ritual of bowing to an icon, statue, or symbol that has meaning to you, and saying a few words of intention.
    • TIP:  I am a big fan of having a dedicated meditation space (I use my window sill) where you can arrange these ritual items.  I water my plants, light some candles, gain calming inspiration from my Buddha statue, and only then do I start my practice.
  • Bedtime rituals:

    • Unplug from electronics 30-60 minutes before bed
    • Sip some relaxing tea, like chamomile, kava, or sleepy time
    • Take time for a bathroom pampering ritual
    • Take a hot bath with relaxing essential oils like lavender
    • Slip into something that makes you feel sexy
    • Read a great book
  • Other self-care rituals:

    • Have a weekly, at-home spa ritual.  Put on a face mask, listen to music, take a bath.
    • End your week on a high note by walking home (or getting off the train a few blocks early), taking a ferry, or a different, scenic route while driving home.  Listen to music if it helps you relax and wash off the week.

What are your favorite healthy rituals?  Share them in the comments below!

How to Start Loving Your Body NOW!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

It is very difficult to make healthy choices for your body, take care of your body, and treat it well when you hate it.  Loving your body does not have to mean that you love everything about it, or that you do not want to change things about it.  But loving it, right now, just the way it is, is a crucial step toward getting healthy, happy, and losing weight!  When you love something, you want to take care of it, protect it, and make it feel good.  When you hate something, you abuse it, neglect it, and criticize it.   Which way sounds more conducive to healthy eating, lifestyle, relationships, and thoughts?  Here’s how to start loving your body right now:

1.     Determine where your body hatred comes from. 

We live in a society that deems openly loving your body taboo.  We have trouble accepting compliments; we feel the need to make self-deprecating comments; we bond with other women over hating our bodies instead of loving them.  Find the source of this habit for you.  Is it an attitude you inherited from your mother or a sibling?  Is it a product of your social scene?  Find the root, and vow to step outside it, be bigger than it.  Make a conscious CHOICE to start loving your body, right now.

2.     Loving your body does not mean giving in to what it looks like right now. 

The biggest reason most women give for why they don’t love their bodies is that they fear losing the motivation for change and weight loss if they accept and love themselves as they are.  But know this:  if you hate your body now, you aren’t going to magically be full of self-love when you finally reach your ideal weight.  In fact, you may even miss out on feeling amazing for reaching your goals because you are so mired with that self-criticism you’re so used to feeling.  Regardless of what shape they’re in now, our bodies allow us to live, walk this earth and experience all the pleasures in it.  That is a lot to love!  Having gratitude toward your body for all the amazing things it allows you to do and experience, and loving your body for that does not mean that you don’t want to be stronger, leaner, more flexible and sexier.  We can always be working on improving ourselves in some way, but when that comes from a place of LOVE, we will be so much more successful, and enjoy ourselves along the way!

3.     Prioritize feeling good. 

When you love something you want to make it feel good.  When you hate something, you deprive it of joy, affection, and pleasure.  Which way do you think leads to weight loss, happiness and fulfillment?  When you love your body, you can shower it with things that feel amazing.  Massages, yummy smelling natural beauty products, delicious and healthy food, dancing, sex, trips to the beach, beautiful clothes – all these things show love to yourself, make you feel SO much happier and taken care of, and yes, make weight loss a breeze!  But when you hate your body, you feed it junk food, cover it in frumpy clothing to hide it, keep it inside on the couch,  living a small life, and abuse it with alcohol, sugar, drugs, cigarettes, soda, and other horrible things.  I’ll tell you what, achieving a healthy weight and a happy, healthy body is impossible in that state of self-abuse.  Making your body feel amazing and taken care of should be your TOP priority in your health journey.  See what a huge difference it makes!

Loving your body is just a more fun, healthy, and pleasurable place from which to approach the work of transforming your diet and your life!

In the comments below, share how you are going to show your body more love, more care, more pleasurable experiences!

{Image: WeHeartIt}

10 Health Benefits of Sleep

Poor-sleep-can-affect-relationships

By: Stephanie Heino

We are often reminded that we need to sleep at least 8 hours in order to function properly. Rest is a great rejuvenator, so we should all  invest in our health by giving our body what it needs. Here are 10 health benefits of getting your beauty sleep every night:

Sleep helps the body repair. Nothing can revitalize the nervous system like regular and nightly deep sleep.  If we don’t give ourselves that time, our nervous system won’t recharge and will thus be unable to send the correct impulses to our organs for optimum functioning. It is during the time of decreased activity that the body can do the deeper job in terms of detoxification and repair.

Sleep restores the body. When we sleep deeply, the body produces human growth hormone, which encourages the restoration, maintenance of muscles and bones, and slows the aging process! This happens much faster and more efficiently than during waking hours so it is very important to get enough sleep in order for the body to recover.

Sleep reduces inflammation. We are more resistant to infection when we get proper sleep, while those who are sleep deprived see a reduced level of white blood cells which plays an essential role of the body’s defense system.  Not getting enough sleep can lead to digestive problems, fibromyalgia, decreased immunity, and other negative effects.

Sleep regulates your hormones. When we get regular sleep, our body’s circadian rhythm makes sure that our hormones are properly regulated. Adrenaline drops as well as cortisol, and we therefore feel more relaxed and balanced (and lose weight!).  Testosterone and fertility hormones are secreted, helping us to feel strong and vital, as well as sexual.  And sleep balances our production of ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that regulates hunger and fullness, which prevents overeating!

Sleep helps you lose weight. Our metabolic rate increases during deep sleep, so even as we are resting, we work towards getting a healthier and slimmer body. Amazing!  And of course, sleep regulates hunger hormones, which reduces cravings and helps you eat healthy!

HeartHealth_CBP1047250_600x350_1Sleep keeps you heart healthy. Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. This fact may be explained by the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

sleep-stressSleep reduces stress. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it goes into a state of stress, which gives us an increase in blood pressure and produces higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes, and these stress hormones also make it harder for you to sleep.

Sleep may reduce the risk for depression. Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, approximately 8-9 hours each night.  More than 9 hours, however, can actually increase the odds of depression!

[Photos: 1, 2, 3]

Live Like a Queen for a Day and Reap the Benefits!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

One of my teachers and favorite wellness gurus, John Douillard, recently wrote about taking the Royal Pace Challenge, and it really resonated with me.  In our quest for “fitting in” self-care, it often becomes yet another to-do to negotiate with our schedule.  So instead of just squeezing in a few minutes of self-care here and there throughout your week, try this on for size:  Pick one day out of your week to live like a queen (or king), and enjoy life at a more royal pace.

What does this entail? Fortunately, untold riches and a cadre of minions are not necessary to reap the benefits of a royal pace.  Any one of us can adopt a more royal attitude, if even for just one day, and enjoy the calm, pampering, and refinement that comes with a life lived well.  Imagine the Queen, if you will (any queen will do), moving through her day.  There is no rushing, no yelling, no unrefined habits like eating in front of the TV or a computer.  She goes to bed early, she unwinds from her day of queenly duties with some pampering self-care, she rises in the morning calm and energized, leaving plenty of time for reflection and getting done all the things she wants to do.  This may sound like a major luxury, but I promise you, one day a week is doable, even for the busiest, most hectic lifestyle.  So give yourself this gift, and note how you feel after just one day of taking care of yourself the way you know you deserve.  You just may get addicted!

Your Royal Day

1.  Early to Bed, Early to Rise:  A queen would never be caught dead working into the wee hours of the night, or worse yet, watching reality television.  On the night before your royal day, give yourself the gift of an early bedtime.  

  • Get the kids to bed (if you have them), or finish whatever work you have early and draw yourself a hot bath at 8pm, with some lovely essential oils of lavender or rose.  Soak the day away, and then crawl into bed with a good book (not a Kindle or iPad… so un-queenly!) no later than 9:30 (a very queenly bedtime).
  • With such an early bedtime, waking up a good hour or two earlier won’t be a problem!  A queen rises early and has plenty of time to take care of herself before launching into her day.

2.  A Queenly Morning:  Use your extra hour or two in the morning to meditate, do a calming workout like yoga, take an early morning walk, or do some writing.  Your morning sets the tone for your whole day, so on your Royal Day, make the morning YOURS.  Leave yourself plenty of time to get everything ready for work or the day ahead.

3. A Queen Never Rushes:  Can you imagine a queen rushing into a meeting, 5 minutes late, out of breath and harried?  Never!  For your Royal Day, adopt a policy of being early for everything.  Leave extra time for travel and commuting, and enjoy the process.  Listen to some music, and maintain a calm, intentional, unhurried pace.  Arrive where you need to be early, calmly, and with grace.

4. Eat Like a Queen:  No, this doesn’t mean pigging out on foie gras.  A queen would never pig out on anything!  She eats delicately, calmly, and healthfully.  She eats in an undistracted, lovely setting, and she enjoys her meals.  You can do this too!  In fact, on your Royal Day, you must.  Leave yourself plenty of time for each meal (a queen never eats on the run!), and eat some delicious, healthy food in a calm, undistracted space.  Sit at a table (not your desk!), or enjoy a meal outside.  MAKE TIME for your meals so they can be an enjoyable, mindful event instead of a rushed afterthought.  If you don’t have time to cook, than eat out somewhere lovely or order in (very queenly) from your favorite healthy restaurant.  Set the table, light some candles, and savor.  No cell phones, no TV, no work.

5.  Take a Queenly Stroll:  As every royal period film has shown us, royals love their meditative strolls.  You may not have access to a manicured garden, but you can certainly take time out of your day for a leisurely stroll.  After lunch, take a walk in the fresh air, clear your head, calm your thoughts, and reenergize for the remainder of your day.  Breathe, observe, and enjoy your surroundings, if only for 1o minutes.

6.  A Queen Never Multi-tasks:  Can you picture a queen checking her email, talking on the phone, eating and working all at same time?  Never!  Today, if only for a day, practice the art of focusing on the task at hand, one thing at a time.  This is crucial to maintaining your queenly pace of calm and balance. Block out time to accomplish what needs to get done, and when you find yourself drifting and getting distracted, just pause, breathe, and return to the single-minded activity before you.  Throughout your Royal Day, be present to the moment you’re in.  If you’re speaking to someone, really listen, in an undistracted state.  In the evening, set aside some quiet time to relax with a single task.  Read a book in your favorite chair, knit, write, paint,

7.  Maintain a Queenly Demeanor:  Power-crazed, beheading monarchs aside, a queen would never lose her temper or raise her voice.  Throughout your Royal Day, if you feel yourself losing control or getting angry, pause, close your eyes and take a breath.  Maintaining an external calm makes it so much easier to maintain an internal sense of calm!  If you get stuck in a situation, ask yourself, what would the queen do? (WWQD??)

8.  A Queen Observes… And Delegates:  Obviously you still have to be productive on your Royal Day… Things need to get done.  But take a page out of the queenly book, and learn to delegate, if only for this one day.  At work and at home, try not to freak out if things aren’t done just so, if a bed isn’t made, or if someone dropped the ball.  Calmly and gently delegate the task to someone else, or just breathe and leave it be.  A true queen doesn’t rush to fix others’ mistakes, or point out their flaws.  She moves through her queenly day observing, but not engaging.

9.  Be a Kindly Queen:  A good queen takes time for the small kindnesses that let those around her know they are appreciated.  On your Royal Day, take the time to call your mom or a close friend and tell them you love them.  Write a handwritten thank you note for a gift you received or a meeting you had.  Complement those around you.  You’ll find that when you radiate kindness, it calms those around you as well, making your entire environment more balanced, serene, and, well, queenly!

10.  A Queen Makes Time for Herself:  Throughout your Royal Day, be mindful of what you need.  A queen makes sure her needs are met, and so should you!  If you need a break, take it.  If you’re dying to hit the gym, or have some quality time with your special someone, make time for it.  Maybe all you need is an hour to yourself… take it.

This is just one day out of your life, but the benefits you’ll reap are boundless.  Make note of how it felt to prioritize your needs, to not rush, to move through your day calmly, gracefully, and with purpose.  You might want to adopt some of these queenly habits on a daily basis.  Or, if not, make room in your life to give yourself this day with some regularity, if not weekly, than a few times a month.  You may find that the more often you let yourself live like a queen, the more queenly you’ll naturally become in your daily life.  These habits are amazing for developing mindfulness, for decreasing stress and anxiety, and for living with more balance.

Share your Royal Day experience in the comments below!

 

{Photo: WeHeartIt}

 

5 Ways To Achieve Happiness And Simplify Life

Happiness-Hands1

By: Stephanie Heino

Did you know that approximately 121 million people across the globe have some form of depression? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long-term, clinical ailment…We’ve all experienced some form of depression, and it’s never any fun. When asking people what they want to achieve in life, the most common answer is happiness. We all want to be genuinely happy. We all want to have that feeling of happiness that is  independent of loss or gain. What stands in the way is our negative beliefs, thought patterns and our way of believing in and acting on the negative.

Here are some ideas to help you achieve genuine happiness and strengthen you inner faith:

1. Live in the present moment

Don’t waste time worrying about things you can’t control. You can’t control the past, and there are only some aspects of the future that you have any influence over. Make an effort to focus instead on the present moment, and what you can control! We all go through ups and downs in our lives, and by being adaptable and more present right now you will also feel more comfortable. Worrying is almost like praying for what you don’t want, since you focus so much on the bad things. And according to the law of attraction, you will attract all kinds of negativity by focusing on it!

2. Don’t overthink, follow your heart

When you overthink things you begin to listen to your fear and believing it is real which will keep you from reaching your full potential in life. We are all experts on listening to what other people thing instead of asking ourselves how we feel about a certain situation in life. When I feel with my heart rather than with my brain, then I truly act on my intuition, which helps me tap into this amazing unlimited source of happiness that I know I can feel.

3. Stop numbing yourself.

I have written before about the danger of numbing your true feelings with different addictions. It is an endless, destructive cycle wherein we use  food, shopping, drugs, alcohol and over-analyzing to keep ourselves from feeling anything negative.  Often times the act is triggered by a negative emotion we want to suppress (loneliness, boredom, anger, stress, etc.). In order for us to be truly happy, we need to learn how to deal with our emotions, and not just cover them up.

4. Delete other people’s opinions

We all have different opinions about pretty much everything and that is what makes us all unique. But, what we have to remember is not to take what other people say as our truth because this can harm our confidence, self-esteem, and lead to all kinds of unhappiness. What has helped me a lot is to understand that what other people say is a reflection of them, and not you.

5. Take care of your health.

healthy-living-womanHow you treat your body will make a huge difference on your happiness and well-being. If we do not  take care of ourselves and our bodies, nothing else will matter either, so it is very important to make changes in order to eat better, exercise regularly and make your body the best version it can be.

While you’re at it, take a look at these tips too:

  • Recognize your unique self.
  • Let go of what no longer serves you.
  • Love yourself and get comfortable in your own skin.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Feel your feelings.
  • Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.
  • Release attachments.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Follow your heart.
  • Stop engaging in drama.
[Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]